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Why Don’t We Listen?

One of the great mysteries of life is the tendency of people not to listen to sound advice from people who know what is best. Adam and Eve received perfect advice from a perfect God but they refused to listen. We all know people in our lives who chose to reject solid wisdom and now are living ridiculously complicated lives. Most of us marvel at the apparent indifference by our most public leaders to the national debt when it seems so obvious to the rest of us that it needs to be addressed.
Just this week, I got in a discussion with a number of people about how deeply divorce affects children. We know from people’s experience, social research and common sense that kids are impacted spiritually, emotionally and relationally when their parents decide to separate. If the kids are young, their lives go into constant transition as they set up two lives (one at dad’s house, one at mom’s house). We know that transitions such as this increase the stress level in our lives so it is usually the kids who are dealing with the stress of the breakup for the longest period of time. Despite this, adults tenaciously hang onto the thought that “kids are tough, they will be alright, kids recover quickly . . .” We all know this isn’t really true but apparently it is easier than admitting we need to change as adults.
Now, I know we all need to deal with life as it is today and not dwell on the past but from this day forward we can all choose to listen to sound advice. 2 Chronicles 10 presents a frustrating story because a king refused to listen to wisdom. The king’s name was Rehoboam. He was the son of Solomon and the rightful heir to the throne. He had a great opportunity to unify the country and to create an environment of good will that would have guaranteed his success.
When the news got out that Rehoboam was about to be crowned, Jeroboam decided to pay him a visit. Jeroboam was a very prominent man who understood the times in which they lived. “Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph.” (1 Kings 11:28) He understood the labor force, the history of how they had been treated, and the strategy that would gain their allegiance to Rehoboam. Solomon had overworked and overtaxed the people but it was a new day and a new king had an opportunity to create a new way of doing things. As an act of good will, Jeroboam proposed, “lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” (v. 4) Rehoboam decided to consult his advisors before responding.
The king received two very different proposals. The elders said, “If you will be kind to these people and please them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” (v. 7) The young men who had grown up with Rehoboam said, “tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’” (v. 10-11)
It seems obvious to me the advice of the elders is better than the advice of the young men but something in the heart of Rehoboam refused to see that. He chose to follow the opinion of the young men rather than the wisdom of the experienced which led to a great divide in the nation of Israel.
“Lord, give me the grace this week to listen to good advice. I know there are plenty of people in my life who speak wisely. There are also plenty of people who are self-seeking and short-sighted. Guide my mind, will and emotions so that I listen to wisdom.”

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